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Old 03-31-2017, 10:48 PM
FishyOne FishyOne is offline
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Default Old 38 Special High-Speed Loads

I have a quick question and hope you guys can help. I own this LNIB Llama Martial 38 Special. It was made around 1970 and the advertisement below is for this gun.

Were the old 38 Special High-Speed loads the equivalent of todays +P loads or were they hotter like 38/44 loads? Any idea what kind of pressures they're talking about? Thanks in advance.



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Old 03-31-2017, 10:58 PM
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Since they list Mid-range and high speed, I would think high speed is a fancy phrase for regular 38 Special.
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Old 03-31-2017, 11:09 PM
lebomm lebomm is offline
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For a long time, ".38 Special Hi-Speed" meant the .38-44 load, but after the advent of the .357 Mag, that load started to wane in popularity, so the commonest loads available were the "midrange wadcutter", a 148 gr or so at about 650-700 fps, and the standard or "service load", a 158-160 lead bullet @ 800-850 fps, which began to be called "high speed" just to distinguish it from the wadcutters. Today's .38 +P loads are usually little more than the older "service level" load, only 1or 2 coming anywhere close to the .38-44. My guess would be that the Llama recommendations are for wadcutters or service ammo.
Is that clear as mud ? Anyway, that's how I've read it after my 50-odd years as a shooter. Others may have different takes.

Larry

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Old 04-01-2017, 01:22 AM
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I'm guessing that no major manufacturers load the .38 special anywhere close to full pressure. I suspect that even most +p loads are barely at full power for a standard load. Probably under.

There are too many old guns out there and the big guys are scared to death of lawsuits.

This is true of most other calibers as well. We all know the .357mag is underloaded from the factory. Has been for decades. The .357sig started out as a barn burner. Can't find any of those original loads anymore either.
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Old 04-01-2017, 03:05 AM
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Default I don't know if you want to hear from reloaders....

...but if you want to get tuff loads unless you can afford Buffalo Bore, Cor-bon or some 'boutique' loads, the only way is to load them yourself. With liabilities the way they are the best way is to do it yourself. Even most bought .357 ammo seems like about 3/4 speed of what it's capable of.
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Old 04-01-2017, 04:35 AM
M E Morrison M E Morrison is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brasso4 View Post
I'm guessing that no major manufacturers load the .38 special anywhere close to full pressure. I suspect that even most +p loads are barely at full power for a standard load. Probably under.

There are too many old guns out there and the big guys are scared to death of lawsuits.

This is true of most other calibers as well. We all know the .357mag is underloaded from the factory. Has been for decades. The .357sig started out as a barn burner. Can't find any of those original loads anymore either.
Unless you go to Buffalo Bore or another boutique company.....
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Old 04-01-2017, 09:36 AM
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I can reload. The equipment is still set up and ready to go, I just don't have the motivation anymore that I used to. For the limited amount of shooting I do these days it's easier to just buy a box every once in a while.
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Old 04-01-2017, 10:07 AM
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Thanks to all for the input. Sounds as if "Hi-Speed" really means standard loads.

I've fired Buffalo Bore's 20C which is Std Pressure Heavy 38 Special, 158g LSWC-HP @ 850fps. They actually state this load hits 1000fps out of a 4" barrel which is what my Llama has. Sounds like that is as hot as I should go since it's what most big guys load their +P to I think.

I appreciate everyone's input.
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Old 04-02-2017, 11:27 AM
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Default attn FishyOne

That Llama is a nice gun. They had a decent reputation in the early 70s. It should do well with standard velocity loads if you're hinky about using +P. Me, I don't eat red-hot foods, but I love red-hot ammo, if in moderation.

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Old 04-03-2017, 01:11 PM
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Hi-Speed is Remington-speak for .38-44. And so is Super Speed (Winchester) and Super-X (Western). None of those have been loaded since the early 1970s. If you want to use those, the only way is to find some antique ammo or roll your own.

I had a Llama .38 Special revolver (2") many years ago, and it was a good gun. Very much like a K-frame S&W except for an in-frame firing pin. Sort of sorry I sold it over 20 years ago.

Last edited by DWalt; 04-03-2017 at 01:16 PM.
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Old Yesterday, 11:18 AM
M E Morrison M E Morrison is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DWalt View Post
Hi-Speed is Remington-speak for .38-44. And so is Super Speed (Winchester) and Super-X (Western). None of those have been loaded since the early 1970s. If you want to use those, the only way is to find some antique ammo or roll your own.

I had a Llama .38 Special revolver (2") many years ago, and it was a good gun. Very much like a K-frame S&W except for an in-frame firing pin. Sort of sorry I sold it over 20 years ago.

Maybe not - check out boutique companies such as Buffalo Bore.
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Old Yesterday, 01:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brasso4 View Post
I'm guessing that no major manufacturers load the .38 special anywhere close to full pressure. I suspect that even most +p loads are barely at full power for a standard load. Probably under.
This is what I think, too.

Even the reloading data is weak. Some standard .38 data is way under max pressure and some +P is just barely over (a couple hundred PSI).

Sad, really.
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Old Yesterday, 02:18 PM
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Regarding the old original .38-44 cartridge, I have never seen any peak chamber pressure data for it. Using Quickload as a rough indicator, its peak chamber pressure calculates to be at least 25K psi, somewhat in excess of the SAAMI max pressure of the .38 Special +P, which I think is around 19K psi.
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Old Yesterday, 06:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DWalt View Post
Regarding the old original .38-44 cartridge, I have never seen any peak chamber pressure data for it. Using Quickload as a rough indicator, its peak chamber pressure calculates to be at least 25K psi, somewhat in excess of the SAAMI max pressure of the .38 Special +P, which I think is around 19K psi.
DWalt: You know your .38-44s! It was a humdinger, that's for sure, much like the original "pre +Ps" of the '65 (SuperVel) to '74 (IIRC) era. Not to flog an awfully dead horse, but today's .38 LHP +P is a far cry from that load as originally developed around 1970.

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P.S. R-P did produce a 158gr RN +P .38 load into the early 80s. Have a few rounds of it sitting around somewhere. As I recall, nothing close to the earlier .38-44.
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Old Yesterday, 09:58 PM
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"P.S. R-P did produce a 158gr RN +P .38 load into the early 80s. Have a few rounds of it sitting around somewhere. As I recall, nothing close to the earlier .38-44. "

I think a 158 grain +P is still loaded by the usual sources in numerous bullet types, just not too often seen on shelves. Easy to duplicate the old .38-44 load by reloading using 2400 or similar. However, much of the original factory .38-44 ammo used a metal capped bullet, not FMJ. I have no idea how one would find metal capped bullets today.
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Old Yesterday, 11:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FishyOne View Post
Sounds as if "Hi-Speed" really means standard loads.
Sort of! Remington marks most of it's ammunition as Hi Speed on the box, even .32 S&W. Generally though you can depend on this:

If the box is marked Hi (or High) Speed, but the individual case head stamps are not, it will be standard pressure loads.

If the case head stamp includes "Hi-Speed" it will be an older .38-44 load! Some .357 Magnum was also head stamped Hi-Speed too.
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Old Today, 01:27 AM
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Default in 1980 I could tell....

I could tell a big difference in standard and +P ammo. I don't think they were max but they had much more authority. Today a +P is enough to feel the difference, but not by much.

I found some .38 loads in a Sierra manual from about that time and they were substantially higher than most manuals today allow. Having a model 10 in good shape I started working up to the load and actually felt I should drop back some before I got halfway up. I don't think it was unsafe, but they were startlingly more hot that I was used to.
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Old Today, 03:23 AM
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Originally Posted by rwsmith View Post
I could tell a big difference in standard and +P ammo. I don't think they were max but they had much more authority. Today a +P is enough to feel the difference, but not by much.

I found some .38 loads in a Sierra manual from about that time and they were substantially higher than most manuals today allow. Having a model 10 in good shape I started working up to the load and actually felt I should drop back some before I got halfway up. I don't think it was unsafe, but they were startlingly more hot that I was used to.
^^^^what he said. When touching off a +P or a "Pre +P" in the early 70s, you always felt that the cylinder would expand sideways. We would limit ourselves to 1 or 2 cylinder-fulls, not from cost, rather from possible perceived strain on the gun.

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Old Today, 09:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwsmith View Post
I could tell a big difference in standard and +P ammo. I don't think they were max but they had much more authority. Today a +P is enough to feel the difference, but not by much.

I found some .38 loads in a Sierra manual from about that time and they were substantially higher than most manuals today allow. Having a model 10 in good shape I started working up to the load and actually felt I should drop back some before I got halfway up. I don't think it was unsafe, but they were startlingly more hot that I was used to.

38/44 loads were intended for N frames - I think you were pushing your luck using a K frame.
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Old Today, 11:20 AM
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38/44 loads were intended for N frames - I think you were pushing your luck using a K frame.
Well said! And yet, the 60s-era S&W catalogs listed acceptable cartridges for each model. The .38-44, IIRC, was listed as safe to be fired in the steel frame Chiefs Special.

Just not comfortably, but they don't say that! Good shooting to you!

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Old Today, 02:46 PM
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38/44 loads were intended for N frames - I think you were pushing your luck using a K frame.
This is what I don't understand. Maybe someone can enlighten me.

Folks tend to say that .38-44 should only be used in N frame revolvers or .357 -chambered guns, including K and J frames. This may have been true before S&W changed the heat treatment in the '30s, but in modern revolvers, I can't figure.

Now from what I've read the .38-44 is on the order of 25,000 psi (+P+ pressure) while the .357 is 35,000 psi. Also, I have read that the metallurgy and heat treatment is the same between the magnum and non-magnum frames, simply, the K frame is just the frame. the only difference is the cylinder, i.e. chambers.

So, my question is- how do people recommend shooting .357 in K frames or .38-44 in .357 K frames but not in a modern (model-numbered) .38 special revolver?

If the frame is exactly the same, how is a .38 special +P+ somehow more damaging and/or dangerous to a model 10 than .357 is to a model 13?
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